Arnold Kling  

The Great Unmentionable

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Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen write (large .pdf)


We do not assume that national IQ is the only factor capable to explain global disparities in access to clean water and sanitation facilities; we only assume that it is probably the most important single and measurable explanatory factor. HDR-06 does not refer to differences in national intelligence or to educational differences between nations. The report emphasizes the significance of political leadership or, rather, its absence, and secondly the importance of poverty as a barrier to progress. Our argument is that the absence of good political leadership is related to national IQ.

This is from an entire book, which seems to be easier to get on line than at Amazon. Those who disagree with the authors are not content simply to dispute their results and criticize their methods (there certainly are fair criticisms to be made). The critics want to run the authors out of the social science profession, if not the human race. That is par for the course for those who speak of the Great Unmentionable as a causal variable.

For the pointer, I thank "a miscellaneous reader from Finland," who points out that Vanhanen is the father of the prime minister.


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COMMENTS (54 to date)
Left Outside writes:

It does sound quite racist. Not calling the authors racist, but it is a racist argument.

I haven't read it all, but a search for "direction of causation" didn't turn up anything which implied they had considered living in poverty and brutality leads to low IQ rather than vice versa.

I'd also advise the authors to read Engles "The conditions of the working class in England". In the C19th some interveiwees didn't know where London was or that 2+2=4, low IQ didn't appear to hold back England so I'm overall dubious about its reliability as a useful indicator. Although I'm happy to be corrected.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

It being a large pdf, could you summarize why they think IQ explains poverty, poor governance, access to clean water, and sanitation - rather than the other way around.

Both sound plausible to me. It seems curious that (at least in this little snippet) they only happen to mention the most controversial causal arrow.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

I've had this problem before using ability measures in the NLSY. Non-economist co-researchers were concerned about the correlation between ability measures and parental income. I'm not sure what they would have expected so long as (1.) ability is at least somewhat heritable, and (2.) ability impacts wages.

That doesn't eliminate endogeneity concerns, of course. But it certainly shoudln't surprise us.

It seems to me the really objectionable thing is the suggestion that IQ varies with race or nationality. I don't know how generalizable IQ tests are... that may be a perfectly valid concern to raise.

But given a universal measure of intelligence I don't think it should be too controversial that it's correlated with outcomes (and that it is influenced by environment).

Greg G writes:

I won't say anything unmentionable because I don't find this promising enough to invest the time to read the 500 pages.

I will say that authors who "assume that (IQ) is probably the most important single and measurable explanatory factor" are likely to be assuming the thing they think they are proving.

I will say that "national IQ" is a surprisingly collectivist notion to see put forward on a libertarian blog.

I don't want to see the authors run out of the social science profession. I want to see them ignored - which seems to be happening if this is difficult to get on Amazon.

Ken B writes:

In Canada we have more clean water than anyone else. Just sayin'.

Brendan writes:

Greg G: By national IQ they mean average IQ. Is per capita GDP a "collectivist" notion?

Daniel: The evidence related to the direction of causation is difficult to summarize. There is no one slam dunk piece of evidence in either direction. It is that there is a mass of evidence most simply explained by racial IQ differentials. Twin/adoption research. Anatomical differences in brain size, etc. Any piece of evidence taken alone seems weak. It is just alternatives to their theory require lots of ad hocery to explain lots of little facts consistent w/ their simple idea.

Ken B writes:

Left Outside:

It does sound quite racist. Not calling the authors racist, but it is a racist argument.

I hope I won't violate policy calling this kind or contention odious. It isn't about the quality of their evidence, or the tightness of their logic. And I don't see how, if we dismiss a priori (and in an inflammatory fashion) any investigation of whether race is a causal variable how you can use science or evidence to refute racism either.

Brendan writes:

Ken, completely agree. It's frustrating to read smart people in the comment section question whether the authors even considered "direction of causation", or the generalizability of IQ tests. Of course they have! Or at least tried to. These are some of the core issues in their field. If you're not familiar with them then read the book, inquire, or ignore the topic. Daniel, who seems open to the topic, finds it curious that the authors didn't address his concern in the one paragraph Arnold pasted. Huh?

Ken B writes:

@Greg G: The average life expectancy for women in America is over 75. Is that a 'collectivist' statement, or a 'collectivist' number?

Ken B writes:

This sort of issue, in admittedly a sharper form, was a major issue in Ontario 20 years ago. For those interersted google Philippe Rushton. He was a psych prof who had a theory about IQ, race, penis size, and sexual selection. Red meat for the outrage industry. Because his argument was also labelled 'racist' the premier of the province said that he should have been fired. One of the rare cases where tenure mattered!

Left Outside writes:

"I hope I won't violate policy calling this kind or contention odious. It isn't about the quality of their evidence, or the tightness of their logic. And I don't see how, if we dismiss a priori (and in an inflammatory fashion) any investigation of whether race is a causal variable how you can use science or evidence to refute racism either."

There is an opportunity cost to studying things (in fact, I really should be doing my dissertation right now) the opportunity cost to investigating whether racism is correct or not is high, so I am pretty happy dismissing it given the weight of evidence already amassed agaisnt it and for other sources of long run economic growth (roughly North + Schumpeter).

I wasn't trying to be inflamatory, they are just pretty clearly making a racist argument that some races are better suited to development than others. If they're right, it doesn't mean their argument stop being racist, it just means that racist arguments are correct.

Ken B writes:
I wasn't trying to be inflamatory, they are just pretty clearly making a racist argument

I'd say that's a self-refuting claim.

I'm not trying to be persistent, I just want to make the point again.

MG writes:

@Greg G,

I can understand why you may not find investing the time required to read 500 pages of research valuable to you or even to the average reader. But why would you think that either you or the rest of the world would not be better off if some others invested some time in scrutinizaing and discussing what appears to be an underdiscussed area of research? Unless you already knew the details of the work in question and had thought out the major critiques to your conclusions(neither of which seems to be in evidence here), wouldn't we all have something to gain from this study not being ignored.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

Having only scanned through the PDF version, this may not be a fair assessment:

First, the works of Douglas North, et al. which deal with how various factors effect the way social orders come to be formed, and the "shapes" they take, are more useful for understanding the present conditions and variations.

An understanding of "Intelligence" and its role in the formation and operations of any social order, based on "I.Q." or "Stanford-Binet," etc. will limit the value of such studies.

The better understanding of "Intelligence " in this context is that described as the ability to perceive information, usually in separate "pieces," and then perceive connections or relationships between the "bits" of information which have "meaning" or significance to the observor/actor.

Thus, in social orders, the functions of obtaining and transfering information (availability)are more crucial than any clinical measurements. Plausible arguments can be made that training (education?) can be crucial for the broader from of "intelligence." But, the availability (open access to) information deserves more attention than correlations of clinical measure to social order structures.

Brendan writes:

Left Outside:

They're not investigating whether racism is correct. They're investigating whether genotypic IQ varies with race.

"so I am pretty happy dismissing it given the weight of evidence already amassed agaisnt it and for other sources of long run economic growth (roughly North + Schumpeter)."

What is the weight of evidence amassed against their argument?

Secondly, are you really claiming that once we know of a few factors that influence some thing, we should stop looking for other factors? The authors claim that IQ explains 50% of the variance in national GDP. Seems worth investigating!

The authors might be wrong, but they'd win any debate with their detractors.

Joe Cushing writes:

This isn't a topic about race. It's a topic about nationality. That is not the same thing.

Left Outside writes:

Okay, I'm not trying to be inflamatory, they are just saying some races are better than other races at developing, sustaining and thriving within institutions conducive to economic growth which sounds eerily reminiscent of arguments made in the nineteenth century justifying imperialism and the subjugation of people of colour.

Better? There isn't really anyway to avoid prefacing your arguments with this when talking about race and development.

I would like to see their study rerun with data from 0, 500, 1000, 1500 and 1900AD.

Ken B writes:

Brendan:"They're not investigating whether racism is correct. They're investigating whether genotypic IQ varies with race. "

Exactly correct. LO calls it an investigation into whether racism is correct. This is an imputation of intent, and prejudice inferentially, to the authors. The he suggests they ignore basic facts everyone knows; why ever would they do that one is left to wonder.

He's not being inflammatory, he's just saying they are pursuing racist arguments in a racist way for racist reasons.

Left Outside writes:

Don't shoot the messenger! Just pointing out why some people may be predisposed to say "yawn, heard this before, move along."

Brendan writes:

And there we have it.

The Libertarian position on the topic of Race and IQ, as described by Greg G, is that it is too "collectivist" to consider.

And the liberal notion- thanks LO- is that it is too racist to consider.

Bigotry: is the state of mind of a bigot, defined by Merriam-Webster as "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

Ken B writes:

Let's be clear about something. Racism is the notion that some races are better than others. It is not the claim that some phenotypic variation or social differences are attributable to race.

Lets' say we do find differences in IQ or anything else attributable to race. It is certainly the case that racist can use any such facts to advance their agenda (as can antri-racists), but that does not make the facts, or the finding of them, racist. It's just a logical fallacy to say so. And in the modern world it is particularly inflammatory thing to do.

FredR writes:

Ron Unz made a big stir at The American Conservative recently by using Lynn's data to attack his own theories. He doesn't discuss this new publication, but I think his article's relevant, and worth a look:
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/race-iq-and-wealth/

He also has numerous follow-up replies to critics on the website.

jc writes:

For a while now, North has been calling for more examination of formal institutional antecedents, e.g., informal institutions like culture and ideas, and biological influences such as the way brains process information. People like McCloskey and Mokyr, and the neuroeconomics and cognitive bias crowds, seem to be producing interesting research along these lines.

This stuff also, though, much like IQ studies, can be reflexively or strategically classified as racist, whether it is or is not, e.g., suggesting that the culture of this race or innate biology specific to that race causes poverty (whether the cited research actually does suggest any of this or not) automatically = racist researchers.

Reminds me of the stories recounted by that "best sort of liberal" (according to Dawkins), Pinker, in the chapter on the politicization of science in the Fear and Loathing section of the blank slate.

Left Outside writes:

Oh I'm sure there are differnces between races to some degree, you know, otherwise what's the point.

However this... "Racism is the notion that some races are better than others. It is not the claim that some phenotypic variation or social differences are attributable to race."...really won't do.

"Better" is doing an awful lot of work there. What's better if not "intelligence and aptitude for developing, sustaining and thriving within institutions conducive to economic growth"? It has certainly always been the standard for most racists.

I'm not saying I won't be interested. But people are going to have to develop a lot of evidence (while under intense external pressure to "shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up" before I pay attention, because my priors are so strongly attuned to the idea that race can't really explain squat. I'm sorry if these people are correct and everyone's being mean to them, but that is life I'm afraid.

David S writes:

Brendan:"They're not investigating whether racism is correct. They're investigating whether genotypic IQ varies with race. "

This seems a silly thing to study really. Assuming a perfect test of IQ, to X significant digits, does anyone really dispute that (for a given definition of race) every race will have a unique IQ average? Almost certainly this is true of any conceivable division of humans - race, sex, hair color, etc. It is also true for any non-tautological definition of IQ.

What is of interest is the distance between average measurements. If it is less than a standard deviation or two then it is probably just statistical noise. But it probably isn't - there are many causal (and self-reinforcing) factors here. That's why it should be studied... if you don't study these differences you'll never be able to actually eliminate them.

Brendan writes:

David, do I really need to specify that the extent of measured difference matters?

"If it is less than a standard deviation or two then it is probably just statistical noise."

1 SD below the mean is an 85. That is noise if measured across thousands of people in a population.

David, it sounds like you have no idea what you're talking about, but felt like saying something.

Brendan writes:

*This was meant to be a rhetorical question: "SD below the mean is an 85. That is noise if measured across thousands of people in a population?"

Ken B writes:

"If it is less than a standard deviation or two then it is probably just statistical noise."

My eyes! My eyes!

Alexei Sadeski writes:

I thought that Indians had super high IQ?

Greg G writes:

@ Brendan, Ken B & MG

Yes, thinking of people as averages of the groups they comprise does strike me as a collectivist way of thinking. I am not saying it is never appropriate, only that it is a collectivist way of thinking.

In my opinion the idea that the many varieties of intelligence can be captured in a single number has been pretty thoroughly debunked. IQ is great for predicting academic success but not a lot more.

Also pretty thoroughly debunked, in my opinion, is the idea that the differences between different races or nationalities can be measured unproblematically and used to prove broad statements about economic and cultural differences.

I do NOT think these authors should be prevented from doing their research and I do not think that anyone should be prevented from reading their research. There is a small chance they could turn up something worthwhile.

I do think the burden of proof is on them to show they are worth us taking the time to consider their work when there is a long tradition of this kind of research being fruitless or pernicious.

Brendan writes:

Greg:

The "de-bunkings" you reference generally occur in pop-science books written by people who are experts in fields other than psychometrics (related to IQ) and race (related to population genetics).

If Malcom Gladwell de-bunked quantum physics you wouldn't take him seriously. But when someone like him de-bunks the concepts of IQ and Race people accept it.

Race, as population geneticists understand it, is correlated differences in the frequencies of particular genes in particular populations which manifest themselves as correlated physical differences in people of a different ethnicities. Race, defined that way, is a fact. That IQ predicts academic, and professional success, as well as success in the most random other endeavors, is a fact.

And Greg, must a libertarian reject the entirety of probability and statistics to avoid being labeled a collectivist?

jc writes:

Fwiw, IQ (more specifically, various measures of GMA), is the best predictor we've got w/ respect to job performance for a really wide range of jobs. The incremental validity added by just about any other single factor (e.g., job interview ratings, conscientiousness, etc.) is fairly small (e.g., from a base of, say, .51 to .56 or .6).

GMA may or may not be a great measure of intelligence, especially in specific forms. And I'm not saying anything at all about whether or why it might differ by group. (I don't want to be called racist like friends - lifelong progressives that just happen to consider themselves scientists first - who have been pressured to change results so that they are more politically correct, even when they were never intrinsically politically incorrect to begin with, except as interpreted via reflexive responses that assume as much; another argument thrown their way is that even if their research is solid and correct, it will be misportrayed and used as ammunition by racists, meaning they're still culpable.)

I'm merely saying that it is sometimes a useful predictor for outcomes outside of academia.

brendan writes:

One last thing, then I promise I'm done.

Bryan Caplan immersed himself in behavioral genetics for Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. You can't study genetics and intelligence with out running into literature that brings race into the equation. And we know Bryan is a committed truth seeker, open to all ideas. I'm almost certain Bryan knows the race/iq/genetics literature (is there any social science he isn't informed about?). If he rejected it, he'd tell us about it. That he doesn't talk much about it, I take as evidence he's at least agnostic (I'm obviously speculating, don't get mad). I don't blame him for keeping quiet though. Nothing to gain, lot's to lose.

Greg G writes:

Brendan,

I am not labeling you, or any other libertarian, as a collectivist. I think probability, averages and statistics are often useful and also often misused.

I am merely pointing to the fact that libertarians often rail against thinking of groups of individuals in terms of their average characteristics or desires. Except when they want to do that themselves.

You are a bold man Arnold. Or maybe you have very little to lose anyways.

The question is Why is this topic the "Great Unmentionable" Because if it is researched and somehow scientifically proven to be true, half of the World's Economists and Social Scientists will lose their jobs. Mostly on the left. Wonder what will happen to those NGOs and the highly "meaningful" jobs in those.

That would be a very very grave situation.
For them.

Also would be a great demotivator of sorts. For the people with average IQ. What will happen to the Poets and left liberal intellectuals. What will they do? What will they write?

A pretty grave situation indeed. It better not be true. Better still we should just avoid researching it. Because the truth may not be worth it.

PS - It might also permanently destroy the free market.

Jeff writes:
PS - It might also permanently destroy the free market.

Yeah, but at least we might get some relief from all the whining about inequality and social justice.

Ken B writes:

@Jeff: Death, taxes, and whining about inequality and social justice.

Sean writes:

There is nothing collectivist per se in using IQ scores of a group. For instance if 10 people with average IQ of 30 were compared to 10 people with an average IQ of 130 (taking care of all the problems of outliers, etc.) it would most likely be the case that the higher IQ group would show greater success when measured along some dimension.

I do think that the linking of IQ with genetics and race is questionable because I do not see how it is possible to separate race insofar as it is genetic (skin color for example) from non-genetic factors such as prejudice, culture, nutrition, or history. I believe that Hans Eysenck once made this point in a book defending the concept of general intelligence. It is impossible to do an identical twin study of people of two different (genetic) races.

Michael Rulle writes:

Charles Murray was called a racist too. I have no idea how inportant race is in the authors' argument. Arnold did not mention race, yet the most passionate commenters jumped right to the race issue. Asian Americans who apply to college have a higher average IQ than all other hyphenated Americans. Does anyone care about that (we do not know the reason, but one reason could be genetic)?

From reading these comments, genetics is not possible and not acceptable. Again, why should it matter? My IQ must be lower than an uncountable number of people. Geniuses have been serial killers.

If we thought of people as individuals, not genetic pod creatures, this would be irrelevant---and we could handle the truth, whatever it may be.

MingoV writes:

Sean:

I do think that the linking of IQ with genetics and race is questionable because I do not see how it is possible to separate race insofar as it is genetic (skin color for example) from non-genetic factors such as prejudice, culture, nutrition, or history.
There are scientific determinants of race (that go far beyond skin color) that are totally independent of the non-genetic factors you listed. There is strong evidence that IQ is one of numerous factors that correlates with race. Many people consider that correlation to be unmentionable, but the same people are not disturbed when the correlations between race and athleticism or race and specific diseases are discussed. That double standard is tiresome.

Ken writes:

Greg G,

I'm guessing here. But I think what you are getting at is that 'aggregate national IQ' does not seem to be very libertarian perspective and tend to I agree with you.

In my own experience, the education system seems to select for people who find surface level learning to be challenging and worthwhile. The smartest kids are often bored and lose interest by 5th grade. I was fortunate enough to pay enough attention to get good grades but never had to study.

My son's best friend in 4th grade was placed in the special ed class because he did so poorly on tests. After school he and my son would rewrite code for QBasic gorillas game to create interesting effects.

Sean writes:

Mingo, I do not doubt that there are many genetic factors that are related to race (and sex). However, I am unable to understand how it is possible to separate genetics from environment when it is impossible to study two identical twins of the same race or sex. The entire premise of identical twin studies is precisely to hold genetics constant while looking at the effect of environment when the twins are raised separately. Perhaps my reasoning is not correct (I have learned that when it comes to these issues it is very easy to be confused). Even if there are genetic effects on IQ this does not mean that all differences in IQ across individuals or groups are due to genetics.

The alleged genetic differences between races in other areas that I know of are studied with infants so as to minimize post-natal influences (although this does not eliminate pre-natal non-genetic ones). This presents a problem in IQ studies because IQ tests are less predictive with young children. Again I am only basing my observations on what I have read on the issue. I haven't read much of anything about it for quite some time so there may be newer methods that get around these issues.

Tom West writes:

Ken B - Lets' say we do find differences in IQ or anything else attributable to race. It is certainly the case that racist can use any such facts to advance their agenda, but that does not make the facts, or the finding of them, racist. It's just a logical fallacy to say so.

I yell fire in a theater, there's a panic and people die. Was panicking an irrational response? Yes? Should I be charged with murder, anyway? Yes. Any sensible person knows how my claim will be used.

Studying racial differences in intelligence is absolutely guaranteed to be used to foster racism, regardless of the desire of the researcher. This fact is *so* obvious, that it's pretty hard not to imagine that the researcher doesn't realize this.

At my most charitable, this leads me to believe they may value science over the massive harm to society that occurs when the belief that one section in their population is better than another section becomes widespread, which makes the scientists rather contemptible.

Perhaps as an encore, they might want to study and publish how any basement lab can produce chemical and biological weapons, in the name of science, of course.

Less charitably, one might assume that they actually like the idea that one section of society will be seen as superior to the other, with all the consequences that follow from that.

I have to say, I find it odd that such topics come up repeatedly in a Libertarian blog, when it's absolutely obvious that such research can have only one end - to *prevent* people being judged as individuals, since such prejudgements, statistically justified or not, are universal when such differences become widely accepted.

Michael Rulle - If we thought of people as individuals, not genetic pod creatures, this would be irrelevant---and we could handle the truth, whatever it may be.

But we don't, and we won't. I'm not a big fan of seeing widespread damage, just because we can pretend it "shouldn't" occur. See yelling "fire" in a theater.

@Tom West

You are basing your entire argument on the comparison of the possible events in a theatre after you shout Fire ?

Try shouting Fire ? I guarantee you that the level of panic will be directly proportional to people actually seeing fire though they initially might react and try to run. Eventually things will be calm.

Basically your argument that a truth that causes a big status quo change possible negative should just be avoided is ridiculous. It is at the same level of the arguments used 500 years ago about the Sun going around the Earth. The argument used by the left is that this pursuit of truth will not lead us anywhere because it is highly subjective and not provable beyond doubt. But these type of arguments have been used before many discoveries and inventions proved them wrong.

We do not know for sure what would happen if we learned the truth about this issue. But you can be assured that it can never be conclusively proved that only a certain type of human intelligence causes success. Our search for the truth could lead us to the real truth about what type of intelligence suits what kind of economy and economic policy and drastically create efficiency in our goals of increased societal equity and quality of life for all.

Jason Malloy writes:

This is from an entire book, which seems to be easier to get on line than at Amazon.

It's always easier to steal media online then it is to pay for it!

There are diminishing returns to Unifying Construct (2012). IQ & the Wealth of Nations (2002) was the first book describing the theory and it is more verbal and analytical (more of what one typically expects from what they'd call "a book"). Its follow-up, IQ & Global Inequality (2006), had some updated responses to critics, but it was less analytical, and more of a big collection of simple correlations between national IQs and international datasets . The latest book seems to be even further in that direction. I'm looking at it more like a Consumer Reports; publications of data that are updated periodically. Since there isn't a lot of text, you can literally read through the whole 500 pages in a couple of hours.

Readers more familiar with the economics literature than the psychology literature might be more comfortable reading Garett Jones' Intelligence, Human Capital, and Economic Growth.

Jason Malloy writes:

My first link was supposed to lead here.

Tony N writes:

Tom West,

I yell fire in a theater, there's a panic and people die. Was panicking an irrational response? Yes? Should I be charged with murder, anyway? Yes. Any sensible person knows how my claim will be used.

What if the theater really is on fire?

Ken B writes:

@Tom West:
You don't think the special circumstance of the crowded theatre are why it's bad to yell 'Fire' there?

You don't think the special nature of a cry a of 'Fire', which is a warning of imminent danger, matter here?

And as Tony N says, what if it's true? Doesn't that matter either?

Tom West writes:

Our search for the truth could lead us to the real truth about what type of intelligence suits what kind of economy and economic policy and drastically create efficiency in our goals of increased societal equity and quality of life for all.

I find that about as likely as research in someone's basement into cheap germ warfare leading to some great medical discovery. (i.e. theoretically possible, yet light years beyond common sense).

There are dozens and dozens of areas of research that are verboten, possibly with drastic consequences, because there's essentially no possible good outcome, and some chance of a catastrophic one.

And, for the most part, this research is still at the "phlogiston" level of knowledge. It's essentially statistical correlation mixed with speculation and just-so stories, and then used to paint "it's science" on whatever noxious social policy people want to advocate. It's back to the nineteenth century, but with more statistics.

Do I think the research should be banned? No. But I feel perfectly comfortable condemning those who choose to perform it. People who choose to engage in socially destructive activities should be prepared to suffer the verbal slings and arrows of outraged citizenry. God knows there will be enough people trying to use their "research" to destroy the lives of others.

D writes:

Interesting how well the very 1st comment validates the title of the post.

Seth writes:

Not sure what the large .pdf contains, but this quote contains stats lingo that is often leads to equivocation.

From a stats lingo, I thought 'explains' and 'related to' means that it correlates to, but necessarily causes. However, non stats folks often take these to mean "causes".

Vipul Naik writes:

I consider some of the issues raised by Lynn and Vanhanen in this blog post.

Brendan writes:

Tom, you suggest the study could foster racism. Maybe, but it could also reduce it. Today, many people think group performance differentials are primarily due to racism. Naturally, those that feel oppressed by another racial group will tend towards racism themselves. But if the authors are right, then to a large extent society is being unfairly maligned. Their studies could create the recognition that our society is fairer than is currently perceived.

Tom West writes:

Their studies could create the recognition that our society is fairer than is currently perceived.

I think the odds of this are about zero to 3 or 4 decimal places.

(1) People just can't handle statistics. I don't know how many times I've seen mean of distribution X is higher than mean of distribution Y become min(X) > max(Y) in most people's minds.

Even worse, they'll then do what they can to *enforce* that belief because science has "proven" that min(X) > max(Y). Sadly, this pervasive tendency is *not* limited the innumerate. I suspect it's simply a basic hang-up of the human mind.

(2) I have never found the accepted belief in one's racial superiority has ever been a good thing for the 'superior' race. The pernicious effects of slavery were not confined to the victims.

(3) My experience indicates that "good will" towards those who are seen as your superiors is pretty rare.

My personal anecdote is that the only person I've ever heard advocating "nuke the Chinese NOW!" was doing so because he apparently believed that not doing so would doom the white race at the hands of the mentally superior Chinese.

Truthfully, I consider the fact that a few people incorrectly attribute their lack of success to racism to be pretty trivial compared to the social devastation that occurs in any society where there are the idea of superior and inferior races takes hold.

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